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Section 13B... Social Issues/
Divorce and Re-Marriage

 

003white  Index To Section 13B   Contemporary Social Issues

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May Christians Divorce & Re-Marry?

(Excerpted from a longer article with the same name by Bernie Koerselman)

Please Note: Each coloured link within the article will lead you to a related topic on a different page of this site. However while the text is part of the original article, the links are not. The author of this article may or may not agree with the views expressed on those pages, or necessarily anything else on this site..

Also See Marital Abuse

Index

Introduction
What Does God Say About Divorce?
The Effects Of Divorce
Jesus’ Teaching On Divorce
What is Adultery?
Consequences of Adultery
Paul’s Teaching On Divorce
Is Remarriage Possible?
Who Is An Unbeliever?
Desertion
Separation
Why Do Christians Divorce?
The Doctrines of Unconditional Eternal Security, Easy Believism and Calvinism
Ignorance or Premeditation?
The Good News!
Planning to Marry?

 

Introduction
The Barna Research Group found that professing Christians had moderately higher rates of divorce than the general population, including atheists and agnostics.  Looking at the statistics more closely shows an even more disturbing trend: 27% of those describing themselves as “born-again Christians” are previously or currently divorced compared to 24% of the general population.  But in the Baptist and nondenominational Protestant churches, which dominate the Bible belt in the U.S., 29% and 35%, respectively, were divorced, more than any other Christian denomination. [Glenn Stanton, “Divorce: Bible Belt Style,” Citizen Magazine (June, 2000), p. 19.]   

A recent CNS News report dated January 21, 2002, said, "Born-again Christians are just as likely to get divorced as anybody else in American society, and the vast majority of those identifying themselves as divorced and born-again actually got their divorces after converting to Christianity, according to a new book called ‘The Divorce Reality’.”

This is an extremely disturbing development and all too many churches have tackled this difficult and complex problem by proclaiming a ban on all divorce and, in many cases, labeling all those who have remarried as adulterers (adulteresses). People who have taken isolated verses of Scripture, which happen to back up their doctrinal views, have passed arbitrary judgment. However correctly understanding the words of the Bible and taking all relevant verses into consideration is the heart of any sound Bible study. To do any less is, and always has been, dangerous. It is a matter of correctly understanding the very words of the Bible, remembering that His opinion (not our own) that counts [Return To Index]

 

What Does God Say About Divorce?
In Malachi 2 He states that He hates divorce and why... “{13} You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. {14} Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant. {15} But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. {16} "For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence,"

The Lord God hates divorce and tell us why.. Because “He seeks Godly offspring”, which divorced parents would have a tough time accomplishing. The family unit has, from the beginning been sacred and God’s choice for us. (Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24). Additionally Mark 10:9 tells us "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate”. "Various studies have simply exposed what God knew all along… The effect of divorce on children and the involved partners themselves is horrendous[Return To Index]

 

The Effects Of Divorce: 
It is common knowledge that all too often the children of the marriage are the worst affected and often devastated by their parent’s divorce, a fact that has been borne out by several studies, some of which have found that children of divorced parents “make up an estimated 60 percent of child patients in clinical treatment and 80-100 percent of adolescents in in-patient mental hospital settings.  “Research indicates clearly that a broken home with the resultant loss or absence of a parent predisposes a child to a variety of emotional disorders that manifest themselves immediately or later in the child’s life.” {Muehlenberg, Bill, Youth Suicide, Cutting Edge, December 2000/January 2001 No. 50,}

Mr. Muehlenberg adds, Emphasis added

    “A 1988 study of 752 families found that youths who attempted suicide differed little in terms of age, income, race and religion, but were ‘more likely to live in non-intact family settings.” . 

Other studies have shown close links between suicidal behavior and parent child relationships. Bruce Logan wrote: 

    “Recent surveys in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA have found that children from broken homes, when they become teenagers, have 2 to 3 times more behavioral and psychological problems than do children from intact homes.  Of juveniles and young adults serving in long-term correctional facilities, 70 percent did not live with both parents while growing up.  Broken-home backgrounds contribute to as many as 3 in 4 teenage suicides and 4 in 5 psychiatric admissions”.  (‘Marriage, Do we need it?’ Report for the New Zealand Education Foundation. Page 15). Emphasis added.

For a decade now, the evidence has piled up. Children of divorce are more depressed and aggressive toward parents and teachers than are youngsters from intact families. They are much more likely to develop mental and emotional disorders later in life. They start sexual activity earlier, have more children out of wedlock, are less likely to marry, and if they do marry, are more likely to divorce. They are likelier to abuse drugs, turn to crime, and commit suicide. One study shows that the children of divorce, when they grow up, are significantly less likely than adults from intact families to think they ought to help support their parents in old age. This is an indication that resentments do not fade and that the divorce boom could create disruption between generations. A report in June from the Heritage Foundation began: "American society may have erased the stigma that once accompanied divorce, but it can no longer ignore its massive effects."

Now this discussion among researchers and policy experts is becoming part of the national conversation thanks to Judith Wallerstein and her important new book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. The "unexpected" part is that divorce produces "sleeper effects," deep and long-term emotional problems that arise only when children enter early adulthood and begin to confront issues of romance and marriage. The "powerful ghosts" of their parents’ experience rise only in later life, Wallerstein told a seminar in New York City last week.

    Sense of dread. Wallerstein is a psychologist who has been studying 131 children of divorce since 1971, interviewing them intensively at different stages of life. Now these children are ages 28-43, and the news about them is not good. Their parents’ divorce hangs like a cloud over their lives. Compared with similar grown children from intact families in the same neighborhood, the children of divorce were more erratic and self-defeating. Some sought out unreliable partners or dull ones who at least would never leave. Others ran from conflict or avoided relationships. Expecting disaster, they often worked to create it. Some grew up to achieve success in work and romance, Wallerstein says, but even they are filled with a sense of dread and foreboding that it could all collapse at any moment, like the intact home they once had. (The Sleeper Effect – The Price Children Pay For Divorce By John Leo

Adults don’t fare very well either

    “Figures from a 1950-1964 study by the National Center for Health Statistics in the U.S. show that the suicide rate per 100,000 married men is 18. But for men who never married, the rate is 33.2 and for men who are divorced or separated, it leaps to 69.4.… 385% more than the suicides among married men!  {Supra, pgs 19-20, De Marco, Donald, Biotechnology and the Assault on Parenthood. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991).

The study further revealed that with each 1 per cent increase in the divorce rate there is a .54 per cent increase in the suicide rate and that divorced males aged between 35 and 44 are the most likely to take their own life in Australia, while married people are the least likely to suicide. {Ibid, page 20, Adelaide Advertiser, “Divorced males top suicide list,” Adelaide Advertiser, 12 October 1994.}

Is it at all surprising that God is very vehement in expressing His loathing of divorce? [Return To Index]

 

Jesus’ Teaching On Divorce
Apparently sometime in the past Moses had permitted divorce due to the ‘hardness’ of the heart of the people but when the Pharisees came to Jesus, possibly looking for an excuse to continue their practices, He simply reiterated what had been already said in Genesis.

    {3} The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" {4} And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' 5 "and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? {6} "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." Matthew 19:3-6.

The basic principle is that there should not be divorce among those God has joined together. However He did not stop there.

    {7} They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?"{8} He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. {9} "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." Matthew 19:7-9.

In verse 9 Jesus established the only acceptable reason for a man to divorce his wife (or vice versa. In this particular text Jesus was speaking to men, the authoritarian religious leaders of the Jews – the Pharisees). It would be completely erroneous to disregard either aspect of Jesus’ statement, as some are wont to do. Jesus made it very clear to the listening Jewish leaders that divorce was not acceptable to God and equally clear that adultery was the only grounds on which God would tolerate divorce. (Adultery is unlawful sexual intercourse with the spouse of another.)

 God intends the marriage vow “until death do us part” to mean what it says. He also expects the marriage to be two people joined together as one flesh, which requires fidelity to one another until death.  When that vow is broken, it amounts to a breach of contract in law. It allows the innocent person to be released from the contract – the marriage vow.  Incidentally a secular legal divorce does not mean God considers that person divorced from his spouse.

However that wasn’t all Jesus said. He also stipulates that… whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

So a person who divorces for any other reason other than adultery and then remarries commits adultery.  So according to Jesus if a divorce which terminates a marriage was not because of infidelity then the partner who remarries is guilty of adultery.

This is not an isolated verse since earlier in Matthew 5, He said: 

    {32} "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

Because God considers the original husband and wife still to be married – there was no marital unfaithfulness – the woman has committed adultery against her former husband. The man who marries that woman is marrying a married woman (in God’s eyes) and thus he is committing adultery. Paul corroborates this view in Romans 7: 2-3

    For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man

The key to a right understanding of God’s view of divorce from Scriptures is that God considers those he joined together to be one flesh.  In God’s eyes, according to his word, only death or unfaithfulness will break apart those God has joined together.  

Consider the following passage from Mark 6:17, 18:

    17 “For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her.18 Because John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."

NOTE: Even though Herod had "married" Herodias, she is still considered "Philip's wife." That is why John said it was not lawful for him to have his brother's wife. In other words, both Herodias and Herod committed adultery 

The Gospel of Mark makes it clear that this is not just a case of a man divorcing his wife but it goes both ways.  

    “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11).

 Therefore the charge holds true for …

    The man who wrongfully divorces his wife and remarries
    The wife who subsequently remarries
    The man who marries her.
    The fourth is implied i.e. the woman who marries the wrongfully divorced man.
      [Return To Index]

 

What is Adultery?
Adultery has already been defined as unlawful sexual intercourse with the spouse of another. However Jesus explicitly stated in Matthew 5 that there were other ways to commit adultery other than having a physical sexual relationship with someone.

    {27} "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' {28} "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Emphasis added).

Therefore a person who is addicted to pornography whether over the internet, cable TV. Magazines, or movies “has already committed adultery” in their hearts. What about the “Christian” men who lust after pornographic images of women over the Internet, or through cable TV channels, or pornographic movies or magazines?  According to Jesus these men commit the sin of adultery with such women in their heart, and worse it is a continuing sin.

But if the person denies or justifies the sin and refuses to repent, that person should be treated as an unbeliever. If such a person leaves the marriage, the remaining innocent spouse should not be bound. [Return To Index]
 

Consequences of Adultery
Perhaps too many Christians have not taken seriously all the many warnings about the consequences of adultery. Scripture has much to say on the subject and none of it is ambiguous.

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:  Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). 

    The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).  

    But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 21:8). 

Additionally the author of Hebrews speaks about the consequences for those who dishonor the marriage relationship: 

    Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral (Hebrews 13:4). All Emphasis added.  [Return To Index]

     

Paul’s Teaching On Divorce
The early church must have faced some difficult issues. Almost everyone at that time was a new believer and following Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians that the believer must not be yoked together with an unbeliever one believing spouse in a marriage must have wondered what the right thing to do was.

     {14} “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? {15} What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

Paul’s instructions in Corinthians 7:12-16 answered a lot of questions.  Note that Paul categorically states that these instructions are from the Lord, not him

    To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. . . . But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.  A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? Emphasis added.

There are two points of note here.. 1) In the case of an unbelieving spouse Paul forbids divorce unless the unbelieving spouse leaves. 2) However he adds, “if the unbeliever leaves, let him or her do so.” The “believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances.” Emphasis added. (That is not to say he cannot bless their marriage and draw the unbelieving spouse to himself. He can and does do this at times).

Paul’s words are unambiguous… the believing spouse is free to divorce and re-marry another believer when legally able to do so, but the believing spouse may not secure a divorce so long as the unbelieving spouse is willing to live with him/her.  

A likely reason for this is because Jesus said “what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6) and it is implausible that God has joined a believer to an unbeliever. Jesus in speaking to the Pharisees said that they were of their father the devil. John 8:44. If the religious leaders of the Jews were not children of God but of the devil, then what of unbelievers? Certainly they too are children of the god of this world, not of God Almighty.

Consider the following… Would God join two non-believers together who don’t know him and have no concern for his word? Or would He join together two atheists who do not believe in existence of God?  How about two men or two women in a same-sex marriage? Does God join together two unbelievers who participate in a Christian wedding ceremony, which invokes the blessing of God on the marriage? Does God join together two professing Christians who really don’t have a saving faith? Or a true Christian and a professing Christian?

See An Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage

Jesus’ command not to divorce (except for adultery) seems to apply to a marriage that God has joined together. A believer and an unbeliever may be joined only by a secular legal bond – not in a relationship joined together by God. Thus, when an unbeliever leaves, the believer would not be in bondage but by implication free to legally divorce and remarry – but only to another believer – in a relationship joined together by God. [Return To Index]

 

Remarriage
Is it possible? If either spouse commits adultery the contract has been broken and the innocent person is released from the marriage vow, therefore the innocent party is (by inference) lawfully able to re-marry without committing adultery. However the spouse guilty of infidelity is an adulterer(ess).

If one partner wrongfully divorces the other and re-marries they are not divorced in the eyes of the Lord, hence the remarriage constitutes adultery and a breach of the marriage contract. (Albeit after the legal divorce) This frees the innocent person from the vow.

However if one partner wrongfully divorces the other and does not re-marry they are still married in the eyes of the Lord and the innocent person still has no right to re-marry, which would constitute adultery in the eyes of the Lord. Nevertheless remember what Jesus said ‘the husband caused her to become an adulteress’. Matthew 5:32. [Return To Index]

 

Who Is An Unbeliever?
Since Paul says a marriage partner is not in bondage to an unbelieving spouse who departs it may be well to consider what constitutes an unbeliever, an issue that is not quite as straightforward as some may think. Someone who calls themselves a Christian is not necessarily so. Jesus tells us in Matthew 16 that a person is recognized by their fruit.

    {16} "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? {17} "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. {18} "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. {19} "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. {20} "Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

And in Mark 7 

    {20} And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. {21} "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, {22} "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. {23} "All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

Additionally Revelation 20 tells us that people are judged by their works…

    {12} And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. {13} The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

So does Rev 22

    {12} "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

Paul is clear in 1 Corinthians that there are those who call themselves believers but are not so. 

    {11} But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner not even to eat with such a person. {12} For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? {13} But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person." (Emphasis added)

Note that Paul calls anyone wicked who is ‘habitually’ sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. This does not refer to an isolated instance of moral failure for which there is immediate repentance.  While it is regrettable but true that all Christian lapse into occasional sin, it is impossible to believe that a man who batters his wife, molests his children, is habitually drunk, etc. is a follower of the Lord Jesus, hence can not be considered a believer (regardless of whether he claims to be one) and can not be treated as such.  [Also See What is a Christian and What Do Christians Believe?]

Therefore the instructions to the marriage of an unbeliever and a believer apply. The innocent spouse still has no right to separate unless the circumstances warrant it, nor to divorce.  However if the ‘unbelieving spouse chooses to go… let him/her go.

 [Return To Index]

 

Desertion
Again there are too many cases of one spouse being abandoned by the other and in many cases have to bear the burden of child rearing single-handed. What is the status of a mother who is left without the financial and emotional resources to care for a family? Can he/she seek a divorce and then re-marry?

Though he was first speaking about caring for widows, the Apostle Paul may have had this state of affairs in mind when he said in 1 Timothy 5 

    {8} But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Paul says the married person who deserts his/her family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  When an unbeliever leaves, the Apostle Paul said the believer who was deserted is not bound; therefore the same guideline must apply to a person who is worse than an unbeliever. The innocent, deserted, believing spouse is freed from a relationship with an unbeliever and is free to marry when legally able to do so[Return To Index]

 

Separation
Sadly there are too many cases where separation becomes a necessity. In the event of violence, marital rape, child molestation etc. there is little other option, but here again Paul provides the key, stressing once more that this is the Lord’s command. .

    {10} Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. {11} But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). 

The fundamental command is not to separate.  It is not an option for marriage partners to decide that they ‘no longer love each other’, ‘aren’t having fun’, or ‘the marriage is too difficult’. The other two instructions are that the husband must not divorce his wife, even though she has separated from him. (this in the case of two believers) and a prohibition of remarriage. The spouse who has had to separate has only two options… reconciliation or remaining unmarried (presuming, of course, that both remain faithful). [Return To Index]

 

Why Do Christians Divorce?
Why is it that Christians have an even higher divorce rate than non-believers considering the Lord’s view of divorce? Sadly there are two fundamental problems here.

    “….the institutional church is essentially a nursery for overgrown spiritual babes. Because it has habituated God's people into being passive receivers, it has stunted their spiritual development and kept them in spiritual infancy”. (Ray C. Stedman).

In today's Bible illiterate Christian world, many Christians think that doctrine is not important. Weak sermons devoid of biblical truth are preached and much emotionalism is passed off as a work of the Holy Spirit. As a result, many Churchgoers do not recognize heresy when it is introduced. The ancient Israelites were often led into error because they were not sufficiently grounded in the knowledge of God (Hosea 4:1, 6) and many Christians today are equally being led into error because they are not testing what they hear by the standard of God's Word. Peter foretells how "Many will follow their shameful ways..." Sadly, this is happening today.

There are two false teachings, which are primarily responsible for people not accepting Jesus’ teachings on divorce (or many other subjects for that matter). [Return To Index]
 

See Section on The Christian and Knowledge
All Christians have thoughts about God and should be pursuing a knowledge of Him in scriptural understanding. We are all theologians. The question is not whether we have a theology but rather, if we have a good or bad theology. Also for most Christians today, the challenge of learning how to discern orthodox from heretical doctrine has apparently not been faced. Either they treat doctrine as minimally important and so regard charges of "heresy" as rude and unloving, or they treat doctrine as all-important and so regard anyone who disagrees with them in the slightest as a heretic.  How does the Bible does tell us to test teaching, prophecy and actions.
 

The Doctrines of Unconditional Eternal Security, Easy Believism, Calvinism
Unconditional Eternal Security claims that if “a man or woman who has been rescued once from a state of unforgiveness need not worry. For once 100 percent of a man’s or woman’s sins have been forgiven, the potential for being unforgiven has been done away with. The risk factor is zero” (Charles Stanley, Eternal Security Can You Be Sure? pages 79-80. Nashville , TN: Oliver Nelson, 1990),

  This is exactly the opposite of what the Bible says. Take for example [All Emphasis Added]

    And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. [Colossians 1:21-23]

    Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. [1 Corinthians 15:1-2]

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. [Matthew 7:21]

    “And having been perfected, He [Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him”  [Hebrews 5:9]

    “He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”. [I John 2:4]

    “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him”. [I John 2:29]

Dr. Stanley also says:

“The Bible clearly teaches that God’s love for His People is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand.” () “Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy” () and “. . . believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation . . . .” () (Ibid, pages 74, 93 and 94).

 Eternal security proponents assure people that ‘once saved is always saved’ thereby ensuring that the vast majority of their congregation pay little attention to the warnings of Scripture and come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with divorce and living in continuing adultery is no longer a deterrent to heaven.

(See Once Saved, Always Saved)

Easy Believism is closely related to the doctrine of Eternal Security.  It teaches that the requirement for salvation is simply to ‘accept’ Jesus as Lord and Saviour and to believe He died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. It emphasizes the love of God and His grace and teaches little or nothing about His justice and wrath. The stance taken by teachers of this doctrine is that sin is not good but all one has to do is confess and God will forgive. While this is essentially true, what is not taught is where Paul says in Romans 6 (Emphasis added).

    What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? ... Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. . And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. . For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. . What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! [Romans 6:1-2, 12-15] 

(See Safeguarding Your Soul)

Calvinism basically states that God determined (predestined) before the foundation of the earth who would be saved and who would be damned, therefore a person can commit any sin and still be saved if he/she he was predestined by God to be so. Likewise he could live the most righteous and holy life but still be damned to hell if God had predestined before the foundations of the earth to damn him. [Return To Index]

[See Section on Calvinism]

 

Ignorance or Premeditation?
If a “Christian” is within the church and is taught wrong doctrine, or never hears a word of denunciation of divorce he/she may not be aware that God hates divorce. If such a person wrongfully divorces he sins, and if he wrongfully remarries, he commits adultery. However consider Paul’s words in 1 Tim 1

    {12} And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, {13} although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

However This cannot be said of the person who knows his conduct is wrong and does it anyway with the premeditated intent to simply confess it and be forgiven, nor for the person who keeps on sinning. The author of Hebrews writes:

    {26} For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, {27} but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. {28} Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. {29} Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? {30} For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." {31} It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

This hasn’t changed since the time of Moses.. (Numbers 15)

    {30} 'But the person who does anything presumptuously (intentionally), whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. {31} 'Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him.'"

Too often divorce, unlike most other sins, is pre-meditated.

Forgiveness of sin involves repentance, which is turning from sin and back to God and then seeking to not commit that sin again, so what should Christians do when they recognize and acknowledge their sin? [Return To Index]

 

The Good News!
Is it possible to have sins of divorce, adultery etc. forgiven?  Yes, it is! God’s word in 2 Chronicles still stand as true today as they were all those centuries ago.

    {14} "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

However it is important to remember that this verse starts with a big “IF”. And IF we humble ourselves and pray and seek His face He will hear and forgive and heal.

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

  What if only one spouse repents and becomes a true believer? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:20…

    Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.  

As we have seen the believing spouse is called to live with a non-believing spouse so long as that spouse is willing to do so.

If your church teaches Easy Believism, Calvinism, or Unconditional Eternal Security you may want to seriously consider finding a church which in Biblically sound, a task that may involve a lot of scrutiny of their beliefs. Sadly too many churches propagate one heresy or another. Be like the Bereans who Paul called “noble” for searching the Scripture everyday to see if what had been told them was true. [Return To Index]

 

Planning to Marry?
God has established marriage to be a lifetime bond between two believers, to last until the death of one of the partners. He forbids marital unfaithfulness and insists the marriage bed be kept pure. Simply deciding one made a mistake in marrying a person or it isn’t fun anymore is not an acceptable reason to terminate a marriage, but in the event it happens neither will be able to marry while the other is still alive without committing adultery (unless one partner is guilty of infidelity). Should a believer marry an unbeliever the believer may not secure a divorce so long as the unbeliever is willing to live with them.

Difficult? Harsh? Yes and no. The marriage relationship can and should be the best of all possible relationships and the inevitable bumps in the road can be learning experiences, which lead to the solidifying not the dissolving of the relationship. A contract that is as binding as the marriage contract is not one to be entered into lightly, since a bad marriage can be one of the worst experiences in any person’s life. Do not embark on this journey without much prayer and leading by the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is simple… God knows far better than we do who would be the ‘right’ mate for us since we as mere humans are incapable of seeing around corners. Relying on Him to make this decision ensures that we have joyful peaceful lives, raise ‘Godly offspring” and give Him the glory. [Return To Index]

Wedding-Back

Marriage From A Christian Perspective

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